The robot nurse
Robots have been seen assisting medical staff at Covid-19 hospitals across the world but it has never been seen here.
And when a robot, made by an 11th grader, gave a demonstration at Barishal's Agailjhara Upazila Health Complex on Monday, everyone inside the hospital was thrilled.
The machine, named Sebak (nurse) by the maker Shuvo Karmaker, successfully delivered a sanitiser and medicines to a patient. It also recorded the doctor's advice and showed it to the patient on its monitor.
"The way Sebak functions, it is clear that it can help doctors and nurses in treating Covid-19 patients," Bakhtiyar Al Mamun, upazila health and family planning officer, told The Daily Star after the demonstration.
He, however, said the robot was not like the high-tech robots with artificial intelligence being used at some healthcare facilities abroad to treat coronavirus patients. "We can work on this to make it better," he said.
Shuvo is optimistic about his latest project. "I built Sebak to serve patients," he said.
The student of Amrita Lal Dey College in Barishal said that he designed the robot in such a way that it can feed patients and can also be used for disinfecting people.
He also claimed that the robot can also be used for providing oxygen support to patients, who grasp for air.
He said he built another robot "Robin" in 2019, which is capable of answering different questions in Bangla and English. Besides, it can ask for help if there is a fire or a gas leak.
"I love working with robots. I dream that I will do more research and will make more, better robots in future," he said.
There are around two dozen ways robots have been used during the Covid-19 pandemic, from healthcare in and out of hospitals, automation of testing, supporting public safety and public work, to continuing daily work and life, according to tech journals.
For instance, a cylindrical robot rolls into a treatment room to allow healthcare workers to remotely take temperatures and measure blood pressure and oxygen saturation of patients hooked up to a ventilator. Another robot that looks like a pair of large fluorescent lights rotated vertically travels throughout a hospital disinfecting with ultraviolet light. A cart-like robot brings food to people quarantined in a 16-story hotel. Outside, quadcopter drones ferry test samples to laboratories and watch for violations of stay-at-home restrictions.
Barishal Civil Surgeon Monwar Hossain welcomed Shuvo's initiative of Shuvo.
Agailjhara Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Abul Hashem, who attended the demonstration on Monday, said robots can play an effective role in serving Covid patients in various ways and reduce the possibilities of doctors and nurses being infected.
"We are proud of Shuvo's efforts and ready to provide him with necessary support," said Hashem.